The 14U Riptide, which is made up of Twin Town athletes and a pair of Tintah, Minnesota, players, entered the North Dakota State Softball Tournament with only three games under their belts on the year. Anybody watching them wouldn’t have a clue how few games they played as the Riptide advanced to the state championship game on Sunday, July 14.
The defending champs and host team, the Minot Storm, took the title with a 9-3 victory.
“The girls were all-stars. They all came and showed their A-game each and every game,” Riptide coach Rich Mostoller said. “Going out to state and having a 3-2 record out there and taking second is a great feeling for the girls.”
The weekend started with a bang on Friday, July 12 as the Riptide beat up on Williston, 12-4. They matched their run total the next day in a 12-6 rout of Bottineau. Even though the Twin Town squad had the bats singing, it was their defense that stole the show.
Tracy Heyda held on to the ball to make a tag despite getting taken out by a baserunner. Second basemen Anabel Pausch and Grace Nicholson, along with catcher Abi Bronson, all laid out for a diving catch in the tournament. Bronson and Abby Johnson were named co-team MVPs at the end of the weekend.
The outfielders played out of their minds and the pair of Riptide first basemen, Addison Twidwell and Ivy Ovsak, came up with some big stretches to get outs. Third baseman Addie Rugland had the play of the tournament by making a grab while colliding with a fence, getting her foot stuck in the process.
After the pair of strong wins, Minot sent the Riptide to the loser’s bracket with a 5-1 victory. The Riptide shook it off knowing they had to win their next game for a trip to the title round and went on to blow Fargo out of the water by a score of 17-1.
“There were so many (highlights). We’re going out there as underdogs I’d say because we had three season games and we were playing teams that played four to five tournaments already,” Mostoller said. “To bring a group of young ladies out there to compete at that level was just great.”
The Riptide played a strong championship game, but their bats couldn’t find the gaps in a the defeat. Even though the whole team couldn’t make the trip, Mostoller said all 21 players contributed to the second-place finish.
“I preach family and all 21 of them, regardless if they were there or not, it was a family effort,” Mostoller said.
The players repaid their head coach for his hard work by decorating his hotel room with balloons. A fitting end to a fun weekend for the team.
“We’re down in the lounge and I looked over to the front desk and I see two of the girls talking to the front desk attendant and I’m like, ‘Hmm, doesn’t look right. I got to go to my room,’ and the girls took off,” Mostoller said. ‘The girls went down to the lobby, got a new keycard and decorated my room. They really went out and built a lot of camaraderie out there. It was a good time.”
The team was made up of players from ages 12-14, so a bulk of them will be back next year.
“To see them progress from last year to this year is just amazing,” Mostoller said.